Apple thinks different on Woolworths new logo, challenges trademark

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Woolworths, the largest supermarket in Australia, is currently revamping its stores with its new brand, and will replace the iconic “Safeway” brand to bring it aligned with the other supermarkets it owns across Australia. The new logo has been described by its Woolworths as a stylised “W” with a leaf on top, but Apple sees differently.

Apple has decided that it will challenge Woolworths trademark application – submitted in August last year – on the logo, claiming that the similarities could potentially confuse the consumer – a claim that it will need to convince the governing agency, IP Australia.

However, another reason could be that Woolworths has gone for a blanket trademark, meaning that it would allow its branding and logo to be on any product ever created, including electronics – something that Apple fears.

But, the likelihood of Woolworths spreading into computers, music players or other electronic devices is possible, after expanding to credit cards and mobile phones, but is unlikely as it would mean Woolworths would compete with Tandy and Dick Smith Electronics, both owned by Woolworths.

The application also covers retail stores, and could put Apple, which has been ramping up its retail presence in Australia after its success elsewhere, and Woolworths in competition. Apple launched its first store in Sydney last year, and has opened four more since then – including one in Chadstone.

Talking to The Age, the man who designed the logo for Woolworths, Hans Hulsbosch, said that Apple’s challenge to the logo is “to the extreme.” Based on this logic, they would have to take action against every fruit-seller,” he said.

Apple has been a known to challenge trademarks that resemble the fruit – including opposing a Canadian school’s logo that uses an apple logo on its storefront with other logos, and a trademark filing for New York City’s GreeNYC campaign.

However, most notably, there was a three decade-long dispute against The Beatles’ parent company Apple Corps, before ending the lawsuit in 2007 after signing a new agreement concerning the use of apples on their logos and the word “Apple” in various aspects of the music industry. This was speculated to bring a clean slate between both companies to allow The Beatles to be sold exclusively on iTunes.

Apple has issued no comment on the latest dispute.